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In the Spring of 1990, Easter and Passover landed on the same weekend. It just so happened, that was also the weekend I chose to bring my boyfriend home to meet my family. Since we are Catholic and he is Jewish, I thought why don’t I surprise him and make matzo ball soup with Easter dinner?!
I had never made it before and, truth be told, I’d never eaten it before either. But, I figured, it’s soup. How hard could it be?
Since I wanted to make a good impression, I called his mother and asked for her recipe.
“Manischewitz,” she said.
“Is that a cookbook?” I asked her
“No, no,” she said. “It’s a brand. It comes in a box. From the supermarket.”
“Oh,” I said. “But I kind of wanted to make your recipe. The one he grew up with.”
“Manischewitz,” she repeated. “Just throw some fresh chopped parsley in there. It makes it look more homemade.”
So, I went to the store to find the mix. The package claimed that one box made nine servings: a cup of broth and one matzo ball each.
This was perfect because 18 people were coming for dinner. I bought two boxes. Following the directions, I prepared the matzo meal, but when I rolled out the balls, they were as small as walnuts – miniscule.
I would be embarrassed to offer such a puny portion to my boyfriend. So, I went back to the store and bought two more boxes, then combined all the matzo meal and doubled the size of the balls. They still looked small to me, but it was actually better that way. I wouldn’t want everyone to fill up on soup, since my mother was cooking a huge ham. As you may have guessed, I hadn’t fully thought things through, menu-wise.
Once the balls were done, I carefully dropped them into the prepared broth. As per the package instructed, I covered it tightly.
While waiting for the soup to cook, I chopped the fresh parsley.
All this was going on at the same time that my family was getting to know my boyfriend. And by “getting to know” I mean “interrogating.”
After the soup was allowed to cook for the prescribed 20 minutes, I removed the lid.
It was like a David Copperfield trick. All of the broth, ever last drop, had disappeared. And each matzo ball had magically transformed into blobs the size of a grapefruit! But it was too late to start over. My mother had called everyone in to dinner and they were already seated. So I had to serve it.
To make matters worse, my mothers fancy china came with dainty little soup bowls. I could barely fit one ball in each.
My sister came into the kitchen to help me serve. She looked at one of the bowls, looked in the pot and asked, “What the hell are these?”
“Knock it off” I snapped. “They’re matzo balls, of course. What do they look like?”
“Grapefruits,” she replied.
“Never mind, just bring them out,” I said, as I hit each bowl with a few sprinkles of parsley. Oh, yeah. That parsley made all the difference. They looked homemade all right. Homemade by a shiksa who can’t follow directions from a box of soup mix.
My boyfriend looked at his bowl and I knew that he knew that I knew I’d screwed up. And then he said, “Sinkers! My favorite! These are just the way my mother made them.”
Now what do you do with a guy who’d tell such a sweet lie. You marry him of course. And that’s just what I did.
12 responses to “Matzo Ball Soup”
Oh Anita, this matzoh ball story brought tears to my eyes. I remember it like it was yesterday when you asked me for my recipe.
Jeff and I just listened to your podcast . I feel so proud to know a star. You are amazing . Donna
Thank you, Donna! I’m having a lot of fun doing it. 🙂
I never knew that they expanded when cooked,and I have been eating them all of my life.
Snork, hahaha, Snork, Snork, Shork, Hahaha!!! SOL (Snork Out Loud)!
Anita, you are a true treasure. lol to your Matzo balls. I was hysterical with laughter. The photo….so so funny. I can only imagine what was going thru your head as you brought the bowls to the table!
great story! LOL.
Great story! Amazing that his Mom allowed him to marry you, but knowing you it was a slam DUNK, matzoh ball and all. Thanks for the laughs.
Manischewitz is my M-I-L “family recipe” also! Only she adds soup greens. LOL.
You r the funniest person I know . Miss you
Ps – a Jew would never serve saltine crackers with matzah ball soup
Hahaha, Donna! Those are not my saltines!
That was too funny! Your husband is a good man !!!